Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere! Maybe Dr. Google is your best friend and doctor for your health struggles. Most people I work with come to me with a diagnosis from Dr. Google and a lot of confusion about conflicting advice on the internet.
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it. You may have heard the quote: “you are what you eat” and nutritionists have refined the saying to “you are what you absorb” hinting that your gut health plays a role as well.
The new Canada food guide recognized that focusing on calories alone does not benefit your health but that what you eat matters. Watch my take on the new Canada food guide here.
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. Especially when we talk about hormonal balance and thyroid conditions.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we? Especially women tend to under eat as they are under the impression that that will help them lose weight and it never works. Sometimes they eat so little, they can barely survive, they are in deprivation mode. Not a good place to be in to convince your body to lose body fat (which will protect you, so you can stay alive – since your are starving!)
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
In my food-based hormonal balancing program, you will learn a new way of eating with these principles incorporated. Participants were all losing weight when implementing this program.
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
Did you know that your digestion already starts in your mouth? The saliva contains enzymes that start breaking down the food before you swallow. So don’t underestimate the importance of chewing!
Mindful eating can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast. Chew it for a while and drink in small sips.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Check out my yummy chia peach green smoothie.